Dram shop litigations are state statutes that impose liability on alcohol-selling establishments and their customer for a negligent act that harms the customer or someone else. If you are involved in an accident and the driver was drunk, then you may be able to file a dram shop lawsuit against the bar that served the alcohol to the driver.
Before these laws were introduced, people couldn’t easily file a lawsuit against establishments like restaurants, liquor stores or bars that sell alcoholic beverages. The argument was that serving alcohol didn’t cause the injuries. Rather, the negligent act was solely attributed to the drunken person.
In this post, we will discuss various types of dram shop cases. We will also highlight issues that these kinds of claims usually trigger.
Types of West Palm Beach Dram Shop Cases
Dram shop cases are divided into two types: first-party cases and third-party cases.
In first-party cases, an intoxicated person sues the restaurant or bar for serving them too much alcohol. In some states, these types of cases aren’t allowed as it is held that people themselves are responsible for the amount of alcohol they consume.
In other states, adults aren’t allowed to bring first-party cases while minors can. Since the law doesn’t allow minors to consume alcohol, an establishment that served an alcoholic drink to a minor has broken the law.
Just because a particular state allows an adult to file the first-party case against an establishment doesn’t mean that they’re worth pursuing. It is extremely difficult to win these cases because it is hard to convince a jury that an adult should be given money because they went and drank too much alcohol which resulted in their injury.
A third-party dram shop case is one where another person gets injured by the intoxicated individual. For example, a person consumes a lot of alcohol at a restaurant or bar and gets involved in an automobile accident. The other driver gets injured in the accident and files a claim against the restaurant or bar. This is to be considered as a third-party case. Third-party cases are allowed by most states, but what the injured individual must prove at the court differs, depending on the state.
Proving Liability in Dram Shop Litigation
The majority of cases where a person gets injured involve negligence. For instance, in a West Palm Beach automobile accident case, the plaintiff must prove that they got injured because of the negligence of the other driver.
However, dram shop lawsuits aren’t always based on negligence. In these cases, liability may be based on intentional conduct or recklessness depending on state law. The threshold of these two conducts is discussed in more detail below.
In some states, dram shop lawsuits are only allowed where intentional conduct and injuries to hard-core alcoholics or minors are involved.
For example, in some states, a dram shop claim can only be made in situations where the alcohol was unlawfully sold to a minor or where a person with an alcohol addiction was given alcoholic beverages knowing their condition. In other states, dram shop lawsuits are restricted even further. For instance, where minors are involved, a case can be brought against the server when they knew that the minor will be driving a vehicle soon. In such states, if a minor gets drunks at a restaurant or bar and then gets into an automobile accident, the restaurant or bar would only be liable if the server was aware that they would be driving soon.
Recklessness refers to a situation where an individual knows that there is an unjustifiable and substantial risk of something unsafe happening and yet chooses to disregard it consciously. Basically, if an individual knows that a particular action will likely be unsafe, but they still went ahead to do that anyway, then they have acted recklessly. When it comes to a dram shop lawsuit, a server is considered to have performed a reckless act if:
- They intentionally served alcohol to a patron,
- They served alcohol knowing that this patron is intoxicated or a minor, and
- They disregarded a substantial and obvious risk arising from serving an alcoholic beverage to this patron; probable harm to them and/or other people.
If a patron asks for a drink from the bartender and the bartender can see that the patron is intoxicated but still chooses to serve them more alcoholic drink, then it may be considered as an act of recklessness.
Dram Shop Litigation Evidence
Dram shop litigations often identify certain evidence as being more significant. For example, in some states, dram shop litigation states that the bar is negligent in following cases:
- The alcoholic beverage was served to someone without asking them for proof of age
- The restaurant or bar served someone who was visibly under the influence of alcohol
- The drink was served by the bar after the closing time
Dram shop litigations may also highlight evidence that might show that the restaurant or bar wasn’t negligent. For instance, the following may suggest that the bar wasn’t negligent:
- At the bar, customers are encouraged not to drink too much alcohol.
- Availability of non-alcoholic drinks is promoted by the bar
- Customers are encouraged by the bar to book a taxi if they’ve had too much alcohol.
There are certain notice requirements that the applicants must be aware of. In some states, the person who gets injured must give a formal notice to the restaurant or bar within sixty days of the accident.
If you want to file a dram shop litigation case against a liquor store, bar or restaurant, our experienced lawyers can help. Give us a buzz today (561) 777-7700 for consultation.